Shrouded in secrecy, an invite-only meeting of the world's political and financial elite is underway in Switzerland. The annual gathering of the Bilderberg Group has attracted strong protest and numerous conspiracy theories.
The exclusive ski resort of St Moritz in June is perfect Bilderberg territory: it is off season and, crucially, practically deserted. There are two hives of activity in town, though: one is the luxury hotel Suvretta, where around 130 of the world’s most influential politicians, businessmen and sovereigns are meeting behind closed doors.
And the other is in a much cheaper hotel, where concerned activists are determined to break that wall of secrecy down. The opposition to the Bilderberg Group meeting in Switzerland has brought together parties and special interest groups from across the spectrum of political beliefs.
Watch RT's Laura Emmett's report
Not only Swiss citizens, but people from other countries like Germany, Austria, the UK and even the US are there to try to report on or just object in person to the group of powerful people meeting in top secret.
Protestors from outside of Switzerland said that in many European countries, it is illegal for elected officials to meet in secret in such a setting.
According to one protestor, the actions of the Bilderbergers would have been considered “diplomatic treason” in Sweden, with the lawbreakers facing a prison term “from 10 years to life.”
Some alternative media journalists have already claimed they have been threatened with deportation by the local police.
Switzerland’s youngest parliament member for the People’s Party, Lukas Reimann, is among those protesting.
“People have the right to know what’s happening in the Suvretta house; what’s happening at the Bilderberg meeting. People want to know what they decide there, who is there, what have they planned for the future. And I’m here for more transparency,” he said.
The Young Socialist Party of Switzerland also belive that the Bilderbergers go against the Swiss state’s fundamental values of neutrality and transparency.
“The economic crisis is a result of the policy of the Bilderberg conference, and global leaders. We think more democracy is needed in economics,” Lukas Horrer, the party's president, said.
The protestors have set up what they believe is the world’s first alternative media center. They would work for mainstream outlets too, but mainstream outlets are not there, with RT being the only international news station being represented in St Moritz.
“Just not enough Western media, not enough from the UK. It is quite appalling,” says Charlie Skelton, a Bilderberg columnist for the Guardian newspaper. “A Swiss news agency has just released some names of this year’s attendees. And on the list there is Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. I would have thought it makes it news.”
Other Bilderberg regulars include David Rockefeller, the Editor in Chief of the Economist magazine, the Greek finance minister, and the president of the World Bank. They are all rumored to be there this year, unlike another regular, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is on bail in New York for an alleged sex attack.
There has been interest from the Swiss national press this year. Bilderberg, which is widely believed to support big government and economic consolidation, runs entirely contrary to the Swiss idea of independence, local government and neutrality.
Blogger Manfred Pietrisch has run a successful campaign to that effect, playing on the reported ten million euro taxpayer bill for securing the Spanish Bilderberg meeting in 2010.
“We do not accept that [for] a private meeting, because that is what they call themselves, the security has to be paid by the taxpayer,” he said. “And a lot of people understand it, especially when the government is saying it does not have money for this or that. It costs a lot of money to secure this private meeting of these people.”
The agenda is secret, along with everything else, but Bilderbergers are believed to be deciding on who should replace their friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the top of the IMF and the ways to save the euro, which is known as one of the groups’ creations.
Some accuse the Bilderbergers of masterminding the world financial crisis and, given the dire economic fate of the last two Bilderberg host countries – Greece and Spain, there are fears for the future of independent non-EU member, Switzerland.
”We think that there is danger that they are meeting in Switzerland because they want to get rid of the last stumbling block in this whole European Union, it’s like an island, which is in their way. We have direct democracy, we’re not in the Union, we’re not in the euro and we’re afraid that they are trying to destroy this,” Pietrisch said.
This Swiss Bilderberg is different from last year’s Spanish one: security is much lower-key, there is no kilometer-wide cordon around the hotel, either. But secrecy still dominates, with protestors saying even the Swiss government does not know who is attending.
Every year, though, there are more and more activists, and increasing media attention. They are saying if you told us what was going on, we would not have to speculate.
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